Top Questions to Ask a Realtor® When Selling a House

March 12, 2024 - 10 min read


What are the key questions to ask a Realtor® when selling your home? It’s critical that you choose a real estate agent who is committed, expert, and focused. But how can you find out which of the ones you interview will do the best job possible?

Selling a home is a complicated process, which many of us fear might overwhelm us if we were to do it alone. After all, very few of us sell a home more than a handful of times in our lives. So, it’s not something most of us can get expert at.

And it can be immensely reassuring to have a professional advise on the listing price of the home, handle the entire marketing process, conduct sales negotiations, chase progress between a sale being agreed and closing, and hold our hands throughout.

However, choosing the wrong agent can make things worse than having no agent at all. So, this article will help you tell how to select the right one for your home.

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Realtors® vs. real estate agents

Realtors are state-licensed real estate agents who have opted to join the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Does NAR membership make a big difference? It depends.

The NAR has a code of ethics that might hold a Realtor® to a higher standard than a plain real estate agent. And you should be confident that a Realtor® doesn’t have a history of proven professional misconduct. Nor are they going through bankruptcy or have been through it recently.

The NAR also offers tools and courses designed to improve a realtor’s skills and businesses. But taking advantage of those isn’t mandatory. So, for many, being a Realtor® mostly involves paying an annual fee to the NAR.

When interviewing agents, you might choose a Realtor® over a real estate agent when both are equally skilled and effective. But NAR membership may not be enough to swing your decision if the plain real estate agent is the stronger candidate.

Importance of hiring the right real estate agent

In November 2023, the NAR reported the results of a survey. And it found that “81% of recent sellers contacted only one agent before finding the right agent they worked with to sell their home.”

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You may think that’s a surprising statistic. Choosing the best agent for your needs can make the difference between your home selling quickly for a high price and languishing on the market only to sell for less than you were hoping for eventually. So, going with the first agent you come across involves quite a gamble.

Of course, the first agent you meet might turn out to be the best. But you won’t know until you’ve interviewed some others.

By all means, ask friends, relations, colleagues and neighbors to recommend agents who have delivered good experiences for them. And place considerable weight on their endorsements. Real-life relationships are often more significant than what an agent tells you about himself or herself.

But still go through an interviewing process. People change. And 2020’s hotshot may be today’s deadbeat.

Questions to ask a Realtor® when selling

So, here we are at the meat of this article. Here are suggested interview questions to ask a Realtor® when selling your home.

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Are you a full-time agent?

A surprising number of agents are part-timers. That may not matter much if they simply choose to work shorter hours than most — as long as they remain flexible.

But it can be a big issue if they have other, more important commitments. If they have a second job or caring duties that may require them to organize a sitter to look after a baby or sick relative, they may be unavailable when a hot prospective buyer visits town or when you need fast responses to issues.

How long have you been a Realtor®?

You need to know whether your chosen agent has enough experience to be truly expert. But, beyond that, don’t assume that loads of experience is always a plus.

Sometimes agents get bored, tired, or complacent as they clock up their years of experience. And someone younger, keener and hungrier may be more energetic as they try to establish themself in the business.

Of course, plenty of older agents retain their energy, and plenty of younger ones can struggle with motivation. So, try to get your candidates’ general vibes.

How many homes have you sold last year?

A good agent sells houses. So, you want someone who can prove he or she does that well.

Just don’t forget that market conditions will affect how many sales an agent can achieve. So, talk through the context with your candidates.

Do you have a team?

There’s nothing wrong with an agent having a team. The more people actively selling your home, the better.

But ask about the team’s dynamic. There’s always a risk that too many cooks will spoil the broth if no single individual is sufficiently focused on your home.

Do you specialize in this neighborhood?

It’s typically good to have an agent who knows your neighborhood intimately. The greater the knowledge, the easier it is to pitch the price of your home perfectly.

As importantly, buyers’ agents will know that yours is the go-to selling agent when they have a prospective purchaser who wants to live in your area. This sort of networking can expedite your sale and get you a good price.

What is your marketing strategy for my home?

All agents will want to cover the basics: adding your home to the multiple listing service (MLS), getting photos, posting details on important websites, hosting an open house, and so on. But see if your candidates have any more imaginative ideas.

For example, would your home look good with a drone video added to your listings? Or might a virtual tour be a good idea? Does your home need staging?

What should I do to help with marketing?

Ask your candidate agents about what they’d like you to do to make your home more saleable. Do you need to declutter? Should you redecorate some rooms? Does the home have sufficient curb appeal? Are your pets too smelly? Should you replace that cracked siding?

You’re looking for quick, easy and cheap fixes, not major projects. Picking your candidates’ brains can also give you insights into their ways of operating.

Read Dos and Don’ts of Selling a Home: A Guide for First-Time Sellers.

How do you plan to price my home?

How does a real estate agent set my home asking price? Maybe that’s the most important question to ask a Realtor® when selling.

But don’t be seduced into going with the agent suggesting the highest price. An outlier may be a sign of an out-of-touch agent. Worse, it can be a sign of one who’s willing to sacrifice your best interests in order to win the listing.

Ask your agents how they reached their figures. They should mention “comps,” which are the prices of comparable homes recently sold in your area. Some might even prepare a written comparative market analysis (CMA) that will show how they reached their figure.

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How much do you charge?

Should the cost be the second most important of the questions to ask a Realtor® when selling? Usually not.

So how much does an agent get for selling a home? Most charge a commission of between 5% and 6% of the sale price, which they share with the buyer’s agent. And those that charge less tend to offer drastically pared-back services.

So, be clear about what you’re getting for your money. Maybe you can get by with a reduced service but recognize the additional burden you’ll be shouldering.

By all means, negotiate a lower commission rate with your candidate agent. But understand that too low a rate could blunt his or her enthusiasm. And it may be a false economy to blindly go with the cheapest.

How do you communicate with your clients throughout the selling process?

Be sure that the agent you choose is comfortable using your preferred communications medium. That could be face-to-face visits, phone calls, emails, snail mail, texts or some combination of those.

Can I speak with your former clients?

Every excellent agent should have a parade of previous clients eager to sing his or her praises. So, be wary of anyone who doesn’t.

Call people on your candidate’s list, and probe what they liked and didn't like about their working relationship. Look out for words such as efficient, effective, good negotiator, knowledgeable, expert, proactive, and imaginative.

Red flags to watch out for

Here are the three red flags that could see you cross off an agent from your shortlist:

  1. Lack of experience selling similar properties — If you have a modest home and your agent sells only mansions, he or she is unlikely to understand your market or have contacts in the professional network you need
  2. Poor communication skills — Agents who can’t sell themselves to prospective clients will likely struggle to persuade prospective home buyers
  3. Overpromising when it comes to the sale price — It may be that your agent does a very poor job of valuing your home. Or it could be that they are so desperate for your listing that they’ll ask you to lower the price later on. Either is a big red flag
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These don’t really fall into the questions to ask a Realtor® when selling. But they’re things you can pick up on during your interview. And that you should take seriously.

The bottom line: Questions to ask a Realtor® when selling

Some homeowners successfully sell their homes without the services of a real estate agent. And they might save a bundle.

But the 2023 NAR study cited earlier found: “89% of home sellers worked with a real estate agent to sell their home, 7% sold via FSBO [for sale by owner], and less than 1% sold via iBuyer.”

The fact is, few of us have the appetite to go it alone. Although agents are expensive, they relieve us of a pile of stress and hassle. And a good one can help us get a great price and a quick sale.

However, a bad one can be a serious liability. So, choosing the right agent is essential. Our questions to ask a Realtor® when selling are intended to help you make a good choice.

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How do I assess the Realtor's® experience and track record?

You can ask the Realtor® about the number of years they have been in the real estate industry and their specific experience with selling properties similar to yours. Request examples of past sales they have successfully closed and inquire about their success rate.

What qualifications and credentials should a Realtor® possess?

Look for Realtors® who are a part of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and are licensed in your state or region. Additionally, you may want to consider Realtors® with professional designations, such as Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) or Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR). These designations indicate that they have undergone additional training and have specialized knowledge.

How does a Realtor® determine the appropriate listing price?

A good Realtor® should analyze market data and conduct a comparative market analysis to determine a competitive and realistic listing price for your property. They should consider factors like recent sales of similar properties, current market conditions, and any unique features or upgrades your property may have.

How does a Realtor® stay updated on local market trends?

A knowledgeable Realtor® keeps up with market trends through regular analysis and networking with other industry professionals. They may attend local real estate events, access multiple listing services, and engage in continuing education to stay informed about the market changes.

Will the Realtor® provide regular updates on the marketing efforts?

Good communication is crucial during the selling process. A reliable Realtor® will provide regular updates on the marketing efforts, including the number of views or inquiries your property receives, feedback from showings, and any adjustments made to the marketing strategy.

How frequently can I expect to communicate with the Realtor®?

Communication expectations may vary, but a responsive Realtor® should be available for regular updates and to address any questions or concerns you have. Establish clear communication channels and mutually agree on the frequency and preferred methods of communication.

Peter Warden
Authored By: Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Peter Warden has been writing for a decade about mortgages, personal finance, credit cards, and insurance. His work has appeared across a wide range of media. He lives in a small town with his partner of 25 years.
Aleksandra Kadzielawski
Reviewed By: Aleksandra Kadzielawski
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Aleksandra is the Senior Editor at The Mortgage Reports, where she brings 10 years of experience in mortgage and real estate to help consumers discover the right path to homeownership. Aleksandra received a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. She is also a licensed real estate agent and a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).